Navigating The Shifting Sands of Retail
In general, retail marketing and the retail landscape are constantly in a state of flux. Over the last several years, that change has focused upon the e-commerce space and consumers’ perceptions of brands. Simply stated, consumers want a more personalized experience. They are, however, expecting that a personalized experience won’t impact the speed and accuracy of their ordering process. This desire can complicate how brands take their products to market. At the IRCE/Retail X conference in Chicago, hundreds of retail brands shared their insights into how personalization and convenience alter the way products are brought to market.
A key player in the personalization and convenience space is Amazon. According to the Walker Sands 2019 “Future of Retail” study,” 77% of consumers identify free delivery and 48% identify faster checkout as key drivers of where and when to purchase. Most brands define “speed of check-out” as the number of clicks it takes to get from a landing page to a sale. Faster check-out can be broken down into different categories; for example, many pages or overall quantity of information required slows the process down.
Product personalization should decrease the time spent in the consideration phase of the consumer journey. This is an area in which Amazon excels. It is not just one-click shopping that makes Amazon a behemoth in e-commerce – it’s their ability to provide high-quality, personalized recommendations to consumers, decreasing their total time in the sales journey.
Personalizing the consumer experience raises some real challenges for brands in the form of marketplace solutions and marketing development. If speed is the desired result of marrying personalization and convenience, then platform or marketplace selection is essential. Not all online marketplaces are the same, and their capabilities can vary dramatically. Additionally, if a brand has built their own e-commerce website, consumers expect the same level of personalization and speed as Amazon. This level of commitment to e-commerce demands a deep understanding of how to best manage each platform in order to deliver on brand promises.
When it comes to marketing development and asset management, consumers are looking for more information to decrease decision-making time, and that information needs to be personalized to each consumer. The sheer volume of assets needed to make this a reality is staggering. To fulfill consumers’ desires, brands must develop and cultivate everything from paid ads to product reviews and product pages. Each one must tell the value proposition of every unique product in a way that will resonate with specific audiences. Brands must increase their emotional intelligence about consumers, exploring visuals that drive product interest based on the emotional insights. They must then continue to engage consumers after the purchase to ensure they share their experience with others and grow the brand.
While it sounds logical, none of this is easy, especially since the consumer journey is not limited to online experiences. But just focusing on online for a moment, consider the complexity of multiple online marketplaces and the demanding, hands-on management required and it is easy to understand how brands are feeling more lost than ever before while trying to maintain or increase profitability. The good news is that data science has made consumer insights easier to obtain, giving brands the chance to generate more memorable content to consumers. As for platform management, that is a matter of training and time. Retailers need to make sure they read the contract terms with each marketplace platform to understand what can and cannot be done and then dedicate resources to maximizing their efficiency and productivity.
In order to achieve efficiency goals, brands should consider hiring an agency or specialist to help maximize key platforms such as Amazon and Walmart. Of course, the e-commerce and retail sands will continue to shift beneath everyone’s feet. The best any brand can do is remain flexible to the changes and keep pace as best as possible.